Article

Environment

Perhaps the single most effective thing you can do to help the environment is to stop consuming meat and other animal products. The United Nations reported that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty, and the worst impacts of climate change, calling the western diet of meat and dairy highly unsustainable.

A report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization found that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transport system (cars, trucks, trains, and planes) combined. A single person going vegetarian would eliminate 1.5 tonnes of C02 equivalent gases a year.

Livestock production is also a major source of land and water degradation. Irresponsible disposal of manure and animal corpses, for instance, has led to the pollution of many rivers, affecting the lives of many people who depend on them.

Meat production is also extremely wasteful. On average, farmed animals must be fed over 6 kilograms of food crops to produce 1 kilogram of meat, along with large amounts of water and energy – precious resources that we could directly consume. Animal agriculture is responsible for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of total land use and 85% of soybean production. In fact, the world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population.

Ending world hunger is not an unrealistic goal. We just need to be smarter about how we use our resources. At the same time, we need to think about the kind of world we want to leave our children. Earth is the only planet we know that is able to support life, and it has done so for billions of years. It is terrifying that we have made it so inhospitable to many forms of life in only a few hundred.